Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"The Wickedest Town in the West"

    The good people of Jerome will be putting on the town's 50th Historic Home Tour shortly.  If you have never been to Jerome, or have not returned for some time, this will be a perfect event to rediscover for yourself the place once known as the "Wickedest Town in the West."
    Here is a press release from our friend Donna Chesler with all the details.  Hope you can make your way to Jerome for this wonderful event.

50th Annual Jerome Historic Home and Building Tour
May 16-17th, 2014
9:00AM-3:00PM for last ticket sales
928.634-2900 Jerome Chamber of Commerce
$20 adults/$10 Children/Not handicapped accessible.
The longest running home tour in Arizona boasts never before seen Historic and Significant homes in this Guided Tour through the mile high town’s back streets.

The Jerome Chamber of Commerce has begun planning the most talked about event of the year, The Jerome Historic Home and Building Tour, celebrating its 50th year.
Guests will have the comfort and the shelter of Spook Hall and enjoy entertainment and seats while waiting for the shuttle to begin this wonderful tour. Watch for more details in the weeks to come as the lineup of homes unfolds. Five homes are selected with 2 more to come. The Rosie Salas House was built in 1898 and has had a first class renovation using many local artisans to create a truly lovely home with huge views. The Paul Nonnast Home is in itself a work of art created by the late Jerome Artist who died in 2005. A student of Paolo Soleri and Arcosanti, Paul designed and lived in a unique studio and then built a main home on the mile high cliff of Jerome. For the first time, the public will get a glimpse of the incredible design of this talented artist. George and Lori Riley are completing a major exterior renovation of their 1990’s home that is perched above 89A. They have added terracing with rock walls, decks and a new studio to make this a remarkable stop on the tour. Stories from the old days in Jerome are abundant for this home as many locals have a long history with the property. The 1914 home of local furniture designer Tim McClellan is on the tour. Situated on the main road into town, this well built cottage is loaded with charm as well as furniture from Tim’s Western Heritage Furniture located right across the street. The Robinson home is a Victorian charmer with a turret that affords a view of the Jerome town from a very unique perspective.

Tickets will be sold online as well as the day of the event. It is most crowded in the morning so it is recommended to come in early afternoon for the least amount of waiting. Vans transport guests to each location where you can stay as long as you like. Get on the next van and proceed with the tour. It will take 2-4 hours to complete the tour depending on how long you spend at each stop. For more information, call The Jerome Chamber at 928.634.2900.

For more information about this press release, contact Donna Chesler at 928.301.3004 or

Here are a few examples as to what you will see...

Photo by Michael Thompson
The Rileys used only rocks found on their property to make this incredible wall.
The house is famous for a large hole on the property that was filled by dumping numerous cars and a boat in it to fill it up!

Photo by Michael Thompson
This Cottage built in 1914 will be on the tour It is owned by celebrity furniture designer Tim McClellan who recently was featured on Ellen’s Design Challenge.

Photo by Donna Chesler
The Robinson Victorian Home has one of the most interesting views of the mile high town from the charming cupola. Guests will be able to see this during the Home Tour so bring your camera!

Photo of The Rosie Salas House by Michael Thompson.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Caving Arizona

    The beauty of Arizona’s landscapes has long been documented and photographed.  Yet, underneath the vast deserts and majestic mountains of Arizona is a whole world of caves, many of which are just waiting for you to get out and discover. 
    Arizona is truly a treasure of speleological wonders. Speleologists, scientists who study caves, estimate that over 4000 caves lie beneath the ground of Arizona with some 1,600 Arizona caves already having been discovered, verified and documented.
    These scientists define a cave as any opening within the ground that allows for human entrance and that extends at least 50 feet in any direction.  If the opening is less than 50 feet, it is classified as a shelter.  These same scientists also speculate that over 95% of all of Arizona’s underground caverns have no opening to the surface.
    Luckily we don’t have to be skilled in spelunking to enjoy the underground beauty of a few of Arizona’s most spectacular caves.  Here are a few that are open and easily accessible to the public.

In Southern Arizona

Kartchner Caverns State Park is truly the crown jewel of Arizona caves.  These underground, “living” caverns have been protected as an Arizona State Park since 1988 and were first opened for public tours in 1999.  Located near Benson, Arizona, well-trained park docents offer a variety of tours that vary during the year because of a colony of bats that still use the Big Room as a nursery.  Reservations are highly recommended/Park & Tour fees apply -

Colossal Cave Mountain Park features a dry, limestone cave located just to the east of Tucson.  This privately owned cave was first opened for tours in 1917.  It extends into the mountain some 600 feet from the cave entrance and descends some 40 feet below the ground.  There are 363 steps in this vast cave so it is not an ideal experience for anyone who has difficulty climbing stairs.  Entry fee -

Coronado Cave is located in the Coronado National Monument south of Sierra Vista.  Park Rangers lead daily tours to this large, limestone cave found at the base of Montezuma Peak.  Tour requires a 1-mile roundtrip hike and ability to scale down and up a 30-foot rocky slope.   This is a more rugged cave adventure than either Kartchner Caverns or Colossal Cave.  National Park entry fee -

In Northern Arizona 

Grand Canyon Caverns is the largest dry cave in the United States.  Located on Historic Route 66 west of Seligman, this Arizona cave is friendly to all visitors as an elevator slowly lowers visitors some 200 feet below the surface.  Long, paved walkways with handrails allow for visitors to spend as much time as they wish exploring the cave geological features.  Entry fee applies -

Lava River Cave is the most remote and undeveloped of these highlighted caves.  This 700,000-year-old lava tube is found in the Coconino National Forest northwest of Flagstaff.  There have been no “man-made” improvements to this ¾ mile long cave so be sure to wear sturdy shoes and have more than one source of light.  The cave was first discovered by lumberjacks in 1915 and provides visitors with a rugged caving experience.  No Entry fee -

    The Arizona Cave Protection Act safeguards all of Arizona’s caves.  Any damaging or defacing of the cave can result in a severe fine.  Spelunking in undeveloped natural caves can be dangerous so be sure to wear proper protective clothing and follow all caving safety and etiquette guidelines. 
    Anyone wishing to learn the proper ways of spelunking in Arizona wilderness can learn the rules and the techniques from the Central Arizona Grotto Club -

   Caving Tips & Etiquette from the National Speleological Society -

1.    Never go alone into a cave.  Always stay with your group.
2.    Plan ahead for an emergency.  Be sure to have multiple sources of light.
3.    Bring the right gear; wear the right clothing.
4.    Tell someone where your caving group have gone and when you plan to return home.
5.    Stick to the pre-established routes in the cave.  Caves are slippery; wear good caving shoes.
6.     Wear protective head gear.
7.      Leave the cave as you found it.  Don’t litter, disturb the cave formations or any wildlife.  Don’t cause any damage to the cave.

Visitor Center -Colossal Cave

Colossal Cave

Some of the steps of Colossal Cave

Visitor Center Grand Canyon Caverns

Ceiling of Lava River Cave near Flagstaff

Another ceiling picture

Dick in the very dark Lave River Cave